Alan Moore and Section 28
Composer Gary Lloyd on staging Alan Moore’s ‘The Mirror Of Love’
with spoken word, orchestral music and contemporary dance
Section 28 Short at Polari, Syngenta Cellar, Laurence Batley Theatre, 7pm, Tuesday 7 March 2017
The art-form of spoken word with music is precarious and rarely successful. Even Stravinsky distrusted the medium and felt it cheapened both word and music, so in putting the two together there has to be a very good reason, and clues for such a reason can come from quite unexpected places.
Back in 1988 my amazing pal (and author of amongst many others the iconic comic-books Watchmen, V For Vendetta, From Hell and Lost Girls) Alan Moore created two political-historical prose pieces pretty much back to back. Alan and I eventually adapted one of them, the monologue ‘Brought To Light’, a history of the CIA’s covert activities, as a spoken word and music piece released on CD. If you can find one grab it, they’re shockingly rare. The music I composed for it is propulsion for Alan’s catalogue of spooks, tyrants, revolutionaries, names, dates, places, events, music that a journalist from The Idler dubbed “electro-martial”, a grisly militant rocket fuel to make you queasy with paranoia and war.
The other prose piece that Alan wrote in 1988 was ‘The Mirror of Love’, Alan’s riposte to the government’s Clause 28: a touching, devastating and beautiful history of gay culture, which begins with life first appearing on our planet. It’s the more lovely and lyrical sibling of the gruesome ‘Brought To Light’ and I always felt it too would make a highly worthwhile spoken word piece, but I just couldn’t figure out why on earth it would need music to accompany it at all or even what that music would be. The feeling remained though, troubling me, something lurking within, that I should keep it in mind, keep thinking about it.
At some point in the haze of the last two years or so my partner Bettina was in the midst of making a contemporary dance piece with our colleague, the young and gifted dance artist Ane Iselin Brogeland; a piece of adrenalin-crazed struggle somewhere between physical combat and striptease, with repetitive reflections, echoing and copycatting, and somehow somewhere inside it all, an expression of love, something ecstatic. Now, I should point out that this is entirely my own reading of their dance exploration and thus entirely my own opinion, and if Bettina wishes to correct me or provide a detailed explanation of the piece’s true innards and purpose then she is very welcome to blog too (she’s busy typing something else right now... on the other side of the house where the dancing goes on, it’s another world over there...).
Something happened to me though as I watched them dance, some mental and visceral connection was made, an oblique translation from Bettina’s and Ise’s movements back to ‘Mirror’ began to form and I started to get an answer and a reason for bashing even more media together to make a solid whole, a complete form for ‘The Mirror Of Love’. I could explain everything about what we’re aiming to do and how and why and truly still not spoil the surprise of the eventual work, but maybe for now all I need to say is that our piece will be 100% live, the narrator, dancers and musicians, and that it will make you fall deeply in love.
Given the current global political climate and the difficult far-reaching changes happening in the world right now, it’s important to be reminded of good progresses, instances where we’ve succeeded in making improvements, those that unquestionably advance our civilisation, and in the UK in particular we’ve been world leaders in embracing people’s personal choices and orientations. I hope this remains the case. ‘The Mirror Of Love’ concludes with its confrontation of Clause 28, so the happy ending of this tale isn’t actually even in this prose, but it is in our society, and we must covet this as hard-won and irreversible.
We’re looking forward to sharing a little work-in-progress with you and talking a little about it but most of all we’re looking forward to enjoying what looks to be a great night out at Polari. See you there.